[whatwg] RDFa is to structured data, like canvas is to bitmap and SVG is to vector

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Mon Jan 19 19:23:24 PST 2009

On Jan 18, 2009, at 8:43 AM, Shelley Powers wrote:

> Take you guys seriously...OK, yeah.
> I don't doubt that the work will be challenging, or problematical.  
> I'm not denying Henri's claim. And I didn't claim to be the one who  
> would necessarily come up with the solutions, either, but that I  
> would help in those instances that I could.
> What I did express in the later emails, is what others have  
> expressed who have asked about RDFa in HTML5: are we wasting our  
> time even trying? That it seems like a decision has already been  
> made, and we're spinning our wheels even attempting to find  
> solutions. There's a difference between not being willing to  
> negotiate, compromise, work the problem, and just spitting into the  
> wind for no good.

Based on past experience, I would say that you are not wasting your  
time. Evidence-based arguments, explication of use cases, solutions to  
technical problems, persuading third parties, and getting  
implementation traction (for example in popular JavaScript libraries,  
major browser engines, popular authoring/publishing software) will all  
affect how a feature is seen.

As past examples, allowing XML-like self-closing tag syntax for void  
elements in text/html, and ability to include SVG inline in text/html,  
are both features that were highly controversial and at times opposed  
by the editor and others. Nontheless we seem to be on track to have  
both of these in the spec. Note that in the case of SVG especially,  
the path from initial proposal to rough consensus to actual  
integration with the spec was a long one. In fact, integration in the  
spec is not yet fully complete due to some disputes about the details  
of the syntax. Another example is the "headers" attribute, and the  
more general issue of header association in tables. Though the  
"headers" attribute was controversial and once opposed by the editor,  
it is now in the spec.

I believe that most of us here, while we may have our biases and  
preconceptions, will evaluate concrete technical arguments in good  
faith, and are prepared to change our minds. The fact is that people  
have changed positions in the past, Ian included. So nothing should be  
assumed to be a done deal, especially at this early stage of exploring  
metadata embedding and RDFa.

>>> However, the debate ended as soon as Ian re-asserted his authority.
>> Ian just gave an indication of when he's going to work on this  
>> again. That doesn't mean that research into e.g. DOM consistency  
>> can't happen meanwhile. It also doesn't mean that debate needs to  
>> stop.
> No, Ian's listing of tasks pretty much precluded any input into the  
> decision making process other than his own. I never see "we" when  
> Ian writes, I only see "I".

Ian intends to make an evaluation based on evidence and arguments  
presented. Presenting such evidence and arguments is input into the  
decision making process. That's how other changes to the spec that  
went against Ian's initial gut instinct happened. Indeed it is  
possible for Ian to be overruled if he is clearly blocking the  
consensus of the group(*), but so far that has not been necessary,  
even on controversial issues.

I encourage you to provide input into the process, and not to get too  
frustrated if the process is not quick. Nor by the fact that some may  
initially (or even finally, when all is said and done) disagree with  


* - The HTML WG can take a vote which is binding at least in the W3C  
context or remove Ian as editor; and the WHATWG oversight group can  
remove Ian as editor or pressure him by virtue of having the authority  
to remove him.

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